Saturday, December 5, 1998


Fudge, by the very sound of the word and the reverberations it causes between palate and gullet, is the sweetest delicacy ever known. It is the ultimate fantasy of the food-obsessed boarding school child, from Billy Bunter to greedy Edmund in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, to me and my friends; a longing we carried forward into sober, ponderous adulthood.
But at childhood haunts, unfriendly disappointment awaits. King Star and Modern Stores in Ooty no longer make it the way they used to. Times have changed – or perhaps it is only tastes which have become more sophisticated. Going by the theory that there is a fudge-hillstation connection, thanks to the British, Lonavala, now closer to home, beckons but once again disappoints. So-called chocolate fudge can be bought at many shops which also sell chikki and fruit squash. But it is to real, honest-to-goodness, yumptious-scrumptious chocolate fudge as sandpaper is to papad; as sawdust is to molagapodi.
With the onset of the Industrial Revolution, fudge could be manufactured in process batches and took the world by storm. In the early Nineteenth Century, it was the British who monopolised the world of confectionery, a tradition they retained. The perfect fudge can be had at various locations in Britain. One such is Ye Olde Tucke Shoppe, a boarder’s dream if there ever was one, in the little smuggler’s town of Rye. Rye, in the south-east of England, has marshes, a quaint old town wall made of stone, and a lighthouse, and one can all but see lights flashing on the hilltop and Uncle Quentin getting grumpy because he is allergic to Timmy the dog. Perhaps Enid Blyton was never your thing. Enjoy the fudge anyway.
If Rye is too far off, here’s how to make your own chocolate fudge which is just as good. Put equal quantities of malai (skimmed off the top of boiled milk) and sugar, and approximately three tablespoons of cocoa per cup of malai, into a thick-bottomed pot. Cow’s milk malai gives a better flavour – but go ahead and use what you have. Cook on low heat, allowing the sugar to melt gradually.
Stay alert as you mix – this is a task that needs your full attention. Your mixture will soon blend into a molten dark-brown, delicious-looking mass. Keep stirring as it thickens, until the first signs of drying on the sides of the pan which you have to scrape. Don’t wait too long now or the ghee will separate. It will still taste good, but it won’t be fudge.
Pour onto a plate lightly greased with butter. Wait for a bit and cut with a blunt-ish knife while still warm.
Allow the fudge to cool but help yourself as it sets; as creator, you have sole rights to the gooey stage.

Extra: Chocolate cake that helps you make friends:

Mix together, in this order,
0.5 cup oil
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
0.25 tsp instant coffee powder
0.75 cup cocoa
2 tsp vanilla essence
1.5 cup dahi
2.75 cups atta combined with 0.667 tsp baking powder and 0.5 tsp baking soda.
Pour into a greased cake tin and bake at 150°C for 35 minutes.
Some parts of this appeared as A hill station obsession in Times of India, Mumbai on 5 Dec 1998 

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